Water Week

EWN Publishing

Coalition divided over water policy: PM’s commitment opposed by sectional interest, says Labor MP

Posted by waterweek on 26 September 2007

The debate over how to resolve the overallocation of water had revealed the real division over water policy in Australia is between the reformers on one side and the blockers in the National Party on the other, said Labor MP Anthony Albanese in the Federal Parliament on 14 August 2007.

Plan undermined: “The National Party are the handbrake on national water reform,” said Albanese. “There is a conflict between the national interest and the interests of the National Party. The coalition, by definition, has been incapable of resolving this conflict. Following the script written by narrow sectional interests, the blockers in the National Party have continually undermined the $10 billion water plan.”

PM’s commitment contradicted: “Since the announcement in January, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Vaile; the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran; the member for Maranoa; and Senator Barnaby Joyce have all publicly undermined the plan. National Party members oppose the plan to address water overallocation and they are resolute that buying back water entitlements should only be done as a last resort. This directly contradicts the Prime Minister’s commitment made on 25 January, when he said: ‘We are prepared to invest up to $3 billion in buying back water entitlements and assisting irrigators in the unviable or inefficient parts of schemes to exit the industry’.”

Water efficiency program spends under 1pc of budget: “The dismal failure of the tender program for water efficiency, which closed on 14 February, highlights the failure of the National Party’s approach,” said Albanese. “From a budget of up to $200 million, just $765,000 was spent — less than one per cent. The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources stated on 19 June 2006 that the government ‘would not be seeking to acquire more than 200 gigalitres’. Did the tender acquire 100 gigalitres, 50 gigalitres, 10 gigalitres or even one gigalitre? No, it did not. The program acquired just 454 megalitres, or 0.2 per cent of its objective.”

Reference: Anthony Albanese, the Deputy Speaker, Member for Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, House of Representatives, Commonwealth, 14 August 2007.

Erisk Net, 19/8/2007

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